Book Review | The Horseman | Charlotte Nash
“It's been eleven years since Dr Peta Woodward, born into a horse-breeding dynasty, fled the family stud in the wake of a deadly tragedy that split her family apart. Carrying wounds that have never truly healed, Peta has focused on helping others. But when an injury during a solo trip through the Australian high country leaves her stranded, the man who comes to her rescue is Craig Munroe, a born and bred high-country horseman, and the kind of man legends are written about.
Stuck in the tiny town of Yarraman Falls while she recovers, Peta is surrounded by prying eyes and heartbreaking reminders of all she has lost. But while she resolves to leave as soon as she can, fate has other ideas . . .”
This is only the second book I have read by Charlotte Nash (Iron Junction and Ryders Ridge are still on my shelf) but I have come to love her writing.
In my review of Crystal Creek (find it here) I said that Charlotte was a “gifted writer” – and that remains true after reading this latest.
When we first meet Dr Peta Woodward, she’s in the Wonnangatta National Park in the Victorian High Country where she’s come to try and gain some perspective on her life and make a decision that’s been forced on her. As she seeks solace in the bush, her thoughts continually turn to the grief and pain she carries around, even after she takes a fall and lands in a precarious position, unable to move because of her injured leg.
It’s not long afterwards that Craig Munroe, Yarraman Fall’s legendary horseman who’s been out searching for stray cattle on a neighbouring farm, comes to Peta’s aid and insists that he take her back to town to have her leg tended to.
After much deliberation on her part and the fill-in doctor’s diagnosis, she finally realises that her injury is a lot worse than she first thought and decides that it probably is best for her to put her bushwalking off for a while.
And so, it is here, that Peta begins to do a lot of reflection but at the same time is slowly drawn into the daily life of the small town – a place that, quite possibly, she could call home – if only her life wasn’t so complicated.
Charlotte has a knack for making her reader care about her characters and, in The Horseman, she has written an appealing novel with sympathetic and memorable characters as well as the usual suspects who we all love to hate. The stand-out for me though was the relationship between Craig and his horses which had me thoroughly mesmerised because the interactions are so beautifully written and touched my heart. And then of course, there’s the loveable Diane and our not-so-loveable villain!
While her characters keep the story moving, Charlotte also gives us an enchanting look into Aussie small-town life, offering delightful descriptions of life in the High Country, where life ambles along notwithstanding the daily struggles and threats that abound in Yarraman Falls. She writes the setting well and her combination of medicine and drama really fosters a sense of Aussie close-knit communities.
With its intriguing plot lines that create suspense and, paying tribute to the power of community, this is a novel that brims with warmth, great characters, simmering tension, small-town politics and a true blue Aussie landscape – a genuine treat for romantics and non-romantics alike.
I wish to thank Hachette Australia for providing me with a hard copy ARC of this great novel.
About the Author
Charlotte was born in England but grew up in the Redland Shire of Brisbane spending her days riding horses and enjoying the outdoors. She graduated with degrees in engineering and medicine, and over her pre-novelist career worked for the CSIRO in composites and rocket building, in private industry as an incident investigator, and as a technical writer.
Her contemporary love stories are published with Hachette Australia, and she has been nominated for Ditmar and Aurealis awards for her speculative fiction.
She lives in Brisbane with her family, and sometimes teaches creative writing at both The University of Queensland and Queensland Writers Centre.
When not writing, she loves good movies of all genres, cruising about on the Triumph, running, and sailing a yacht somewhere warm with palm trees.
Her favourite writers are Jilly Cooper, JR Ward, Nalini Singh, Liane Moriarty, JoJo Moyes, Neal Stephenson, Michael Crichton, Ted Chiang and Kim Stanley Robinson.